During the week of July 4, I posted thoughts about how we should approach that inevitable day when Donald Trump is no longer president.
Essentially, it was a hopeful post, offering three suggestions: acknowledging that President Trump’s time in power is finite; begin talking with people with whom we disagree to prepare the groundwork for conversations across silos; and recognize that no single “tribe” can re-stitch the fabric of our society back together. It will take everyone working towards mutual respect and dignity to reclaim the moral compass that we seem to have lost as divisive issues have driven us to our separate corners to either lick our wounds or snarl at each other.
But maybe I was getting ahead of myself. There is important work to do while the current occupant of the Oval Office is still in power. Two things happened this week that remind us all how much distance we must travel in order to create common ground, especially across the racial divide that the President continues to stoke. It has been one year since the tragedy in Charlottesville where the open wounds of racism were once again exposed to the light of day.
Fortunately, there was no repeat of the violence from a year ago when white supremacists marched with torches and chanted “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” This year, an anemic cluster of two dozen disaffected souls pathetically paraded across from the White House without much organization or direction. Still, no one was claiming the supremacists have disappeared from the scene or that systemic racism has vanished from the American landscape.
And, as if to prove the latter point, the President’s response to the tell-all book by former aid Omarosa Managault Newman was not just to deny her claims but also to call her a “low life” and “a dog.” (This is a person who held a top-salary position in the White House, a person appointed by none other than the President himself). To be clear, I am no great fan of Omarosa, but in defense of the incomprehensible act of audio taping White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s bullying and threatening behavior while being fired in the situation room, she said that if she did not have the tape, no one would believe her. Shockingly sad, but probably true.
As Donald Trump has demonstrated once again, he is incapable of leading us to our better angels. We–each of us–must assume the mantle of leadership in the quest for justice and equality for all. We–each of us–must be vigilant in calling out and then eradicating racism and anti-Semitism from the fabric of society, not just on a personal level but systemically as well. And we–each of us–must move beyond passive acceptance when we witness demeaning behavior toward anyone and become advocates for those who are maligned, especially if they are among those who have been historically marginalized in this nation.
These are the challenges each of us face until that day when we can use the term “former President” to describe Donald Trump.